The Burn Up saga has had a rather successful run in the anime industry. Many fans are familiar with Burn Up W, Burn Up Excess, and most recently, Burn Up Scramble. Featuring sexy character designs and a humorous, yet action-packed plot, Burn Up is an excellent guilty pleasure.
At long last, weíve been given a chance to see the OVA that started it all: the original Burn Up. Despite its age, it still manages to be entertaining. However, itís very brief (less than 50 minutes) for a disc set at $24.95, although you can find it for $15.00 or thereabouts online.
Personally, I feel as if itís required watching for anyone who considers himself or herself a fan of Burn Up, just to see where many of the conventions that are standard in the series came from.
The ladies of this version of Burn Up are nowhere near the extremes that they represent in later editions of the series. In fact, nothing is really as unrealistic as what can be found later along the showís evolutionary path, but thatís not to suggest that this is superior to the newer productions.
As in other Burn Up stories, this story is set in the near future. As lawbreakers become harder to pin down evidence against, police are hard-pressed to deal with the increasing level of complex criminal activity.
This brief introduction to the future presented by Burn Up focuses on a ruthless crime organization involved in the white slave trade, led by the evil (yet stylishly dressed) Samuel McCoy. They kidnap young girls, brainwash them for subservience, and then sell them off on the black market at a very healthy profit.
Due to the power and influence of the ringleader, however, the police have been helpless in collecting evidence to use against the wrongdoers. It isnít until Maki and Reimiís fellow police officer, Yuka gets kidnapped by the slave traders that the two sexy policewomen decide to take the law into their own hands.
This represents a significantly different setting when compared to the other series. In later Burn Up productions, the main characters are part of a group of officially sanctioned Warriors armed with special powers and given special permission to go beyond the normal constraints of the law. However, the events in this short OVA certainly set a precedent of using extreme measures to combat the growing threat of organized crime, a theme that doesn't disappear from the later Burn Up universe.
As an older, traditionally-crafted series, the animation is nothing spectacular. There is some dynamic camera work, which would be pretty impressive if I wasnít already used to seeing better, smoother animation using computers. One scene in particular did stand out, a car chase used to introduce many of the characters of the story near the beginning of the disc.
A few seconds of the chase showed an overhead view of the car being pursued, driving on the highway, which transitioned into alternate angles, but again, this wouldíve possibly raised an eyebrow of respect in the 80s or early 90s. Today, if people even notice it, theyíll notice it because it looks bad - not because itís a nifty example of traditional animation methods.
Voice acting was solid (again, age plays a role in diminishing the quality of the sound), and the overall quality of the release, as far as adapting an older work to look good on DVD, was acceptable.
As can be expected from the occasional domestication here and there (though theyíre not the only studio guilty of this) random out-of-place profanity can be found in the translation. Iím no expert at Japanese, but Iím pretty sure that "Teflon ass" is not a direct translation.
And people wonder why I like to hear the Japanese language track.
On the subject of imperfections in the release, we move onto the sad subject of extras. Extras include...trailers.
Wait. Trailers? Those arenít extras. Trailers are what you download for free from the Internet. Trailers are what you get when you buy an issue of Newtype. Trailers are what you watch when you want to ruin the plot of a movie, convincing you that you probably donít need to see it after all.
I have to admit -- from time to time, they provide an important public service. Think of how many people might have gone to see Elektra or Catwoman had they not been forewarned of the way those poor movies turned out. If they had wanted people to actually go and see those films, they should have just said "Jennifer Garner hopping around in a hot outfit," or better yet: "Halle Barry in revealing leather."
Trailers are nice, but really, theyíre nothing more than advertising for (or warnings against) the company that released the disc; they are not truly extra content.
Still, even though theyíre called "extras," Iím used to seeing them on almost every disc. I expected more from this DVD, given the extremely short running time and the relatively high MSRP. In the end, the high price and sparse content will probably keep more people away from Burn Up than the aged production values.
Complaints aside, if you enjoyed other, newer editions of the Burn Up saga, then you should check out this release to get an idea of where it all came from, provided that you can get it for a good enough price. Sure, the production isnít as slick as the newer stuff, but the heart of the story is still there, and that counts for something.
For the ecchi folks out there, thereís a surprising amount of violence and (unsurprisingly) a little bit of fan service, though the violence to nudity ratio is far greater in successive Burn Up releases.
Burn Up is a funny (if dated) release that helps put everything else in perspective, the content of the story as well as the technical advancements of its successors. Itís worth the quick watch that it is if you can pick it up at a discount, but fans seeking newer, prettier entertainment will likely pass this one up for something else.